The public relations industry is in a state of evolution with increasing social media demands, expanding digital outlets and ever-shrinking newsrooms. No matter the industry landscape, one thing will never change: Building and maintaining good relationships with media contacts will always be the foundation to a great career in PR.
I’m a living testament to that. I started my PR career in San Diego after graduating from University of California, San Diego, but a case of wanderlust and the draw of big-city living pulled me to Chicago. After a great career—but one too many winters—it was time to return to the promised land of San Diego.
How did I approach job searching after eight years out of the market? Thankfully, I kept in communication with many of my San Diego media contacts, even while I was far away and rarely pitching them anything. These reporters became great assets in directing me to the most reputable PR agencies in town. One contact directly dialed up i.d.e.a. on my behalf and set up an interview. [I later thanked him with a large delivery of San Diego’s finest beers].
Even when not job hunting, PR professionals should keep growing their media network at all times.Here are my key takeaways on relationship building:
Four Tips for Building Strong Professional Relationships
- Act like a real person. Don’t always be a message-points zombie, constantly pushing your clients. Be aware of what reporters are covering and offer to be a resource for them where you can – even if it’s outside of your company agenda or client list.
- ABH. Always be helpful. Minimize your “pain in the ass” factor as much as possible. Do not be disrespectful of a reporter’s limited time, send pitches you know a reporter will not be interested in, cancel interviews you proposed, etc. Reporters remember both the helpful and annoying.
- Stay in touch on social media. Just because you don’t live near a reporter does not mean you cannot build a network with them. Social media allows you to stay up to date on reporter beats and interests more easily than ever before.
- Communicate with media even when you don't want something. Did a reporter recently get a promotion or write a story that moved you? Send them a congratulatory note or share the story with your social network.
Are you a PR person that has tips for building your network? Or are you a reporter that has seen good things from your favorite PR pros? Let us know what has worked for you.